The First Shack


Project carried out as a part of the Urban Observatory project “Borderlines” in Toruń

The project, carried out at the TTBS housing estate on Gerwazego Street, refers to the fate of the artist’s family and is connected to her brother’s entry into adulthood in this place. In the housing estate area, Katarzyna and her brother built a shack, the kind they used to make in their childhood. This temporary shelter in a natural way became a place to play in for children currently living on the estate. Besides the obvious sentimental character, the work has another dimension as well. The construction built by the already adult siblings is ambivalent in the context of the housing estate and their personal history. Building a shack is one of primary and common survival strategies, an action that equally frequently belongs to the world of childhood games and fantasies. In both cases, it is connected with pioneering, adaptive skills, and the result of these works constitutes the first, basic construction, a shelter – an archetype of the house. What is significant for the project is the relation between the artist and her brother. When entering adulthood, the ties created in childhood paradoxically integrated the two in the sense of loneliness and fear of homelessness. These resulted from alcoholism, whose consequence lies in mental homelessness, followed by physical homelessness. The artist’s brother was grazed by both of these.

“The First Shack” of the adult siblings is an attempt at disenchanting a relationship based on common sense of failures and a remembering of these lost warm ties. This private melancholy turns out to be peculiarly functional, as it opens a channel of communication with the upcoming, uncertain, and perhaps nomadic future. In the context of the housing estate, the temporary character of the architecture they have erected refers to general issues connected with housing needs, it is also an expression of a universal drive to self-localisation. The shack has turned out to be an attempt at unification, a moment of creating a community, which in a natural way was adopted by the youngest inhabitants of the estate.